MAKS Show Business Attests to Russia’s Growing Relevance

 - September 2, 2013, 10:45 AM
A Sukhoi Superjet 100 appears on static display in the colors of Indonesia’s Sky Aviation last week at MAKS, the Moscow Air Show. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russian civil aerospace executives might remember last week’s MAKS airshow in Moscow as the start of their industry’s ascent toward global relevance. Highlighted by a tentative deal between Bombardier and Kremlin-controlled Rostekhnologii (Rostec) to partner on the assembly of Q400 turboprops in Russia and a new contract between Airbus and Russian titanium group VSMPO-Avisma to extend their 20-year partnership, the show truly earned its billing as an international event.

In fact, a potential Bombardier-Rostec collaboration would serve as the lynchpin for a series of deals, including a so-called market development agreement with Rostec subsidiary Avia Capital Services to place 50 Q400s in Russia and a sale of another 50 of the turboprops to Russian leasing firm Ilyushin Finance (IFC).

Although sales of Russian airliners involved mainly domestic customers and banks, Irkut, for example, took strides to strengthen its Western ties as it entered talks with Bombardier over plans to cooperate in providing customer support for its planned MC-21 narrowbody. That program, whose schedules call for first flight in 2015 and first deliveries in 2017, drew a series of sales at MAKS, led by a firm order from IFC for 22 of the 200-seat-class MC-21-300s. IFC, which now holds firm orders for 50 MC-21s, stands as the first customer to submit a prepayment, earning it some “hefty discounts.” A day after the order announcement, IFC said it had placed six of the airplanes with Russia’s second largest airline, Transaero.

Yet another Russian leasing company–VEB Leasing–threw its weight behind the MC-21 program with the confirmation of an MOU signed at June’s Paris Air Show calling for delivery of 30 airplanes from 2018 to 2022. In turn, Russian airline UTAir signed an MOU to take 10 and Transaero signed for another six. Both airlines expect to take deliveries between 2018 and 2020.

Irkut gained still more support from Russian financial institutions when the country's largest savings bank, Sberbank, placed a $1.7 billion order for 20 MC-21s calling for deliveries between 2019 and 2025. Coincidentally, 2019 marks the start of deliveries to Irkut-based IrAero, which awarded the city’s eponymously named manufacturer a firm order for ten MC-21s worth $720 million at list prices.

For Irkut’s fellow United Aircraft unit Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC), the Superjet 100 drew a fair share of business as well. Four separate contracts executed by SCAC from August 27 to 29 added as many as 51 aircraft to the manufacturer’s SSJ100 backlog. Anchored by a letter of intent to finance and lease five Sukhoi Superjet 100s, Lithuania’s AviaMA Leasing has signed a new partnership agreement with SCAC aimed at promoting the SSJ100 in emerging markets. That deal, signed last Wednesday, came just a day after SCAC and IFC signed a contract calling for delivery of 20 SSJ100s, five of which would go to a still unidentified airline in a 103-seat, long-range configuration by the end of 2015. The remaining 15 airplanes, specified to roll out of SCAC’s Komsomolsk-upon-Amur factory in the SSJ100’s “basic” configuration, would go to customers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, also starting in 2015.

Finally, on Thursday, Sberbank signed for 20 Superjets following a general agreement announced at the start of the show in which the bank and SCAC would collaborate on placing the airplanes with Russian airlines on operating lease terms starting next year.